Halfback Ray Rice could use a lesson from Jay Z.
And the Baltimore Ravens could use tutoring from Judy Smith, the real-life Olivia Pope of “Scandal” fame.
With more of the judgment and restraint demonstrated by the rapper earlier this month, Rice could’ve avoided arrest in February for allegedly assaulting his then-fiancee. With more sage counsel and advice from a seasoned image manager, the Ravens could’ve avoided Friday’s lame brained “press conference.”
Having Rice speak for six minutes and take no questions made the entire process a farce. Putting his now-wife, Janay Rice, on the dais to portray a sense of unity, created a portrait of dysfunction instead. And in electing to apologize to the Ravens’ owner, general manger, coach, fans, vendors, waterboys, security guards and everyone who ever set foot in Baltimore EXCEPT Janay, Rice painted himself as a Grade-A butthole.
Whoever approved the travesty made matters worse for Rice, who was trampled in the court of public opinion. Team officials didn’t fare any better, coming off as nincompoops while trying to win sympathy for Rice in cyberspace.
“Ray Rice’s family and daughter are seated in the front row of the press conference,” read the first live tweet on the team’s official Twitter account. The 140-character reports continued throughout, relaying how Rice had “… a lot of time to reflect on a lot of things” and he apologizes to “everyone who was affected” and the couple “wish we could take back those 30 seconds of our life.”
There’s no tweet featuring Rice’s insensitive choice of imagery considering the circumstances – surveillance footage from an Atlantic City hotel allegedly shows Rice knocking Janay unconscious and dragging her from an elevator. Rice said “failure is not getting knocked down, but not getting up.”
However, the team made a point to tweet one of Janay’s comments for 432,000 followers and the world to see. Re-tweeted more than 500 times, the summation brought Rice and the Ravens as much scorn and derision as anything else that day.
“Janay Rice said she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.”
Great. Now this woman is blaming herself! Everyone jumped on the comment, including yours truly with a snarky reply tweet: “I’d regret being a punching bag, too.”
We were flooded with commentary that included the sickening numbers: 22 percent of women in the U.S. experience intimate partner violence and account for 85 percent of all domestic violence victims; about 75 percent of all intimate partner assaults are NOT reported to the police. This can be a life-and death matter, as roughly one-third of murders against women worldwide are committed by an intimate partner.
I abhor domestic violence as much as anyone and could never condone Rice’s alleged actions.
However, upon further reflection, I don’t have to excuse Rice’s behavior in order to believe Janay might have good reason to apologize, too.
Which brings us back to Jay Z.
In footage from another elevator scene, Jay Z is ferociously assaulted by his sister-in-law Solange, who lashes him with a series of kicks and slaps. But instead of retaliating with physical force, Jay Z protects himself and tries to restrain Solange until the situation deescalates.
That’s the proper response for a man being attacked by a woman.
There are a few exceptions, namely if MMA star Ronda Rousey is trying to break your arm, if Laila Ali is peppering your head with a flurry or if any woman has the intent and capacity to inflict grave bodily harm.
One of Rice’s lawyers, Michael Diamondstein, used a bunch of hypotheticals during a radio interview to suggest what could’ve happened in his client’s case. According to the Baltimore Sun, Diamondstein said “… hypothetically … the (full) video comes out and the video shows – hypothetically speaking now, hypothetically speaking – shows that Ray wasn’t the first person that hit and Ray was getting repeatedly hit but just Ray hit harder, fired one back and hit harder.”
Rice still would be dead wrong. I’m positive he could protect himself, like Jay Z, without “firing one back.”
But if Janay apologizes for her part, that’s a lot different than domestic violence victims who blame themselves for saying things that make their partners snap.
Athletes might be guilty no more often than, say, doctors or plumbers, engineers or cab drivers. But the spotlight gives athletes the perfect stage and captive audience to deliver a clear message: “Real men don’t do domestic violence.”
If anyone needs a how-to course, they should watch Jay Z’s elevator video.
And next time, the Ravens should watch some “Scandal” episodes.